Rushed Reactions: Maryland 83, Duke 74

Posted by mpatton on March 15th, 2013

rushedreactions

Matt Patton is an RTC correspondent and an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after tonight’s Maryland-Duke game from the ACC Tournament in Greensboro.

Three Key Takeaways:

Ryan Kelly didn't magically fix Duke's defense.

Ryan Kelly didn’t magically fix Duke’s defense.

  1. Maryland’s offense is fine*: That disclaimer is provided if the Terrapins hit open shots. Maryland torched Duke most of the night, knocking down shot after shot. Duke deserves much of the blame for faulty rotations and miscommunications, but many of Maryland’s struggles this season have come from its inability to take advantage of the opportunities teams present to them. As a team Maryland went 40% (8-of-20) from three and a crisp 23-of-25 from the free throw line. Also Maryland had fewer turnovers than Duke (something that only happened three times in 18 conference games). That’s how to hold onto a lead — especially late in the game. The game wasn’t without mistakes, but those mistakes were far less prominent than usual.
  2. Ryan Kelly didn’t magically fix Duke’s defense: A popular narrative the past two weeks or so is that Ryan Kelly fixed Duke’s issues on defense, but that’s not true. Dez Wells showed that an athletic player with the ability to knock down shots and penetrate can still wreak havoc on Duke’s defense. It wasn’t just Duke’s inability to stay in front of Maryland that was the problem, though. Duke also rotated poorly and when help defense did come, it was often ineffective. Unfortunately because of the small sample size of Duke’s recent games with Ryan Kelly, it’s hard to tell if this game was an anomaly or a crack in the foundation. Duke’s defense is better than this showing (teams aren’t typically going to shoot 92% from the free throw line), but it’s also a cause of concern looking towards the Big Dance.
  3. Freshman poise: Freshmen for both teams played very well for their first time on the ACC Tournament stage. For Maryland, Mark Turgeon got very valuable minutes from Jake Layman, Charles Mitchell, Shaquille Cleare and Seth Allen. They didn’t score tons of points, but all contributed in other ways. Layman in particular was instrumental in guarding Ryan Kelly (who finished 3-of-11 from the floor) for most of the night. Layman also sneakily led the game in rebounding. On Duke’s side, Rasheed Sulaimon kept the Blue Devils in the gym during the first half. He was the only aggressive Duke player, finishing the half with 12 points in 15 minutes. Surprisingly, Mike Krzyzewski sat Sulaimon for the first five minutes of the second half.

Star of the Game: Dez Wells, hands down. As Dave Telep pointed out late in the game, Wells is from Raleigh and never got much interest from Duke. Whether or not that was the reason, Wells played like a man possessed, going 9-of-13 from the field and 10-of-10 from the free throw line for 30 points to go with six boards and three assists. Duke couldn’t stop him and every time Maryland needed a bucket, he stepped up big. He’s carried Maryland in both of its ACC Tournament games.

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Rushed Reactions: Miami 69, Boston College 58

Posted by mpatton on March 15th, 2013

rushedreactions

Matt Patton is an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report from the ACC quarterfinal match-up between Miami (FL) and Boston College this afternoon.

Three Key Takeaways:

Donahue has Boston College moving towards ACC contention.

Donahue has Boston College moving towards ACC contention.

  1. Zone Read: Around the under-eight media timeout in the first half, Steve Donahue switched to a loose zone. To that point, Miami had been clicking offensively, but the zone bothered the Hurricanes. It helped tremendously that Julian Gamble, Reggie Johnson and Tonye Jekiri all had two fouls, which partially neutralized the Hurricanes’ interior advantage. But Miami settled for jumpers and heavily contested shots, missing nine of its next 10 shots. The Hurricanes also turned it over three times. That allowed Boston College to finish on a 19-4 run and take a lead into halftime.
  2. Going Small: With five minutes left in the game, Jim Larranaga took Julian Gamble out, leaving Rion Brown, Trey McKinney-Jones, Shane Larkin, Durand Scott and Kenny Kadji on the floor. Essentially that’s Kadji with four guards and wings (all under 6’6″). After the game Jim Larranaga talked about the switch extensively:

    “Thank goodness we were able to go small in the last five minutes. We don’t have a lot of perimeter subs so we couldn’t have done it earlier, even though we know that’s probably the best way to guard them. We were able to do that in the last five minutes and pull away and get a nice win and move on to the semifinals. […] The whole key in guarding Boston College, they do such a great job with ball screens and hitting the role man and hitting or finding another open man. When you’re bigger you’re slower in your rotation so the last five minutes we went to the small lineup and we switched most of them so there is no open man and we trapped with our big guy to be the aggressor at the end of the floor, both ends of the floor and both of those things worked at that time in the game.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Rushed Reactions: Florida State 73, Clemson 69

Posted by mpatton on March 14th, 2013

rushedreactions

Matt Patton is an RTC correspondent and ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after Thursday night’s ACC Tournament game between Florida State and Clemson.

Three Key Takeaways:

  1. Epic Almost-Collapse: Florida State had a 13-point lead with two minutes to play. Two turnovers, a missed dunk, a flagrant foul and a fouled three-point shooter later, the Seminoles were lucky to have a six-point lead (Clemson missed four field goals over that stretch). The Tigers proceeded to hit two unbelievable threes to cut the lead to two with 13 seconds to play, but Michael Snaer iced the game with four straight free throws to close it out. But Florida State looked flummoxed the last two minutes. It didn’t help that a couple of close calls went the other way, but the team lost its poise. After the game, Leonard Hamilton said, “It was like we were trying to invent ways to give the game back to Clemson.” In the end, Florida State hit more free throws and won, but it shouldn’t have been that close.
  2. Terrance Shannon makes Florida State a different team: Much of this year, Florida State has been muscled around inside by ACC opponents. With a young front line — only made younger by Terrance Shannon‘s injury — it wasn’t that the Seminoles were soft. They just didn’t play smart. They often got out of position and gave up easy buckets uncharacteristic of Hamilton’s system. But Shannon provides a spark of strength and experience that really turned the tables in the second half. He’ll be critical to the Seminoles’s chances against North Carolina tomorrow. So far the Tar Heels have struggled with big, physical teams and Shannon fits the description to a T.
  3. Clemson free throws: Clemson shot a smooth 19-of-31 from the free throw line (61.3%). The team missed four free throws in the final two minutes that would have made it even closer than it was. In the past 10 years, Clemson has only finished in the top 200 of Division I in free throw shooting twice. The only time the Tigers ended up in the top half was Brad Brownell’s first season. You want a big reason for Clemson’s rep as a team that chokes? Don’t look further than 15 feet.

Star of the GameOkaro White played like a man possessed tonight. He was everywhere for Florida State. He knocked down jumpers when Clemson let him, or he used the threat of a jump shot to get into the lane. He had several strong moves in the paint. After all was said and done he finished 8-of-11 from the field, good for 24 points in 39 minutes. You may not be familiar with Hamilton’s system, but it’s not every day someone plays essentially the whole game (he played 12 guys against Clemson). Snaer was the only other player to log 39 minutes, which highlights the two most important players for this squad.

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Rushed Reactions: Maryland 75, Wake Forest 62

Posted by mpatton on March 14th, 2013

rushedreactions

Matt Patton is an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after Thursday evening’s Maryland-Wake Forest game from the ACC Tournament.

Three Key Takeaways:

Devin Thomas and the Wake Forest frontline made Alex Len a nonfactor. (photo: Chuck Liddy / Raleigh News & Observer)

Devin Thomas and the Wake Forest frontline made Alex Len a nonfactor. (photo: Chuck Liddy / Raleigh News & Observer)

  1. Close for 32 minutes: At the under-eight media timeout in the second half, it was all tied up 54-54. Over the course of the next six minutes Wake Forest went 4-of-10 from the charity stripe, turned the ball over twice (and would have a third time if the possession hadn’t pointed in its direction), and missed all six of its free throw attempts. Needless to say, Maryland pulled out to a double-digit lead and the game was over. Down the stretch the Demon Deacons just didn’t look invested. They had poor body language and settled for ugly jump shots. The lethargy carried over to their defense in a nasty cycle of bad play. The negative body language is troubling. Wake Forest hasn’t had any success away from home under Jeff Bzdelik (his teams have won one conference road game and no postseason games), which plays into it. But somehow the Demon Deacons have to break out of the cycle.
  2. Pe’Shon Howard saved the day: Pe’Shon Howard has had a tough year offensively — like he’s made three of 25 attempts from beyond the arc in conference play. He hit his only deep attempt today, and it turned out to be where momentum really shifted to Maryland. Right after Travis McKie and Arnaud Adala Moto combined to go 1-of-4 from the free throw line, Howard buried a three to put Maryland up four and the Terrapins never looked back. If Howard is hitting shots, Maryland is a much better basketball team.
  3. Devin Thomas will be a great ACC player: Devin Thomas is going to be a very very good ACC player. He’s a worker for Wake Forest in the paint and has the frame that should add pounds during the offseason. In 18 minutes, Thomas finished with eight points, four rebounds, two steals and a block. He’s got a long way to go in terms of developing an arsenal of moves, but right now he plays a little like James Michael McAdoo. He doesn’t have the physical gifts that McAdoo does, but he does a lot of the little things that win games.

Star of the Game: Dez Wells kept Maryland close to start the second half, scoring seven of the Terrapins’s first nine points. He finished the game with 21 points on 10 shots with four rebounds and a steal to boot. Wells also had to guard Travis McKie much of the night, and did a good job on the perimeter.

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Rushed Reactions: NC State 80, Virginia Tech 63

Posted by mpatton on March 14th, 2013

rushedreactions

Matt Patton (@rise_and_fire) is an RTC correspondent and an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report from the NC State vs. Virginia Tech game this afternoon at the ACC Tournament. 

Three Key Takeaways:

Erick Green's career ended with a dud, as Lorenzo Brown locked him down. (Icon SMI)

Erick Green’s career ended with a dud, as Lorenzo Brown locked him down. (Icon SMI)

  1. NC State can’t D up, but Lorenzo Brown can: Brown locked down ACC Player of the Year Erick Green. He fought through every screen and didn’t give Green an inch once he crossed half-court. The aggressive defense clearly got to Green, who finished with 15 points on 19 shots (and just watching the game, it was surprising he even got to that many). The individual effort was exactly what NC State needed more of this season, though it may prove to be a double-edged sword. Brown looked exhausted down the stretch, and it’s likely Mark Gottfried will call on him again tomorrow to guard Joe Harris. Two first-team All-ACC players in as many days is a tough assignment. I expect Gottfried to spell Brown at least a little with Rodney Purvis or Scott Wood, but Purvis gives up at least two inches and Wood can’t stay in front of anyone. 
  2. Erick Green gassed: Green only had one conference performance where he finished with a below average offensive efficiency. Now he’s got two. The only other time he shot so poorly, he made up for it with an 11-of-13 performance at the charity stripe. But possibly the most impressive part of Brown’s harassing defense was that he didn’t send Green to the line at all (Tyler Lewis fouled Green for his only two free throw attempts). Green looked a step slow, which is reasonable considering the 1,128 minutes he’s put in for the Hokies this season. But don’t fall for the trap that this means that Green didn’t deserve ACC Player of the Year. There’s a good argument to be made for other players, but one bad performance doesn’t discount Green’s truly outstanding season (see: Mason Plumlee’s four points against Maryland or Shane Larkin’s seven points against Clemson).
  3. NC State has a lot to prove: A win against the league’s cellar-dweller is going to do little to quite NC State’s critics, but the team looked better — especially the way it closed the game — than it has since beating Boston College last month. The real tests for the Wolfpack lie ahead with Virginia looming tomorrow. Also before going overboard on the Wolfpack’s team defense against Virginia Tech, they only held the Hokies to 0.04 points per possession (around 2.5 points) worse than their conference average (hat tip to John Gasaway). That’s not dominant team defense. Also a win against the ACC’s worst team isn’t going to help your seed very much.

Star of the Game: Richard Howell did what he pleased against Virginia Tech, going 11-of-13 from the field for 22 points and 12 rebounds. He doesn’t have the most talent on the floor, but he’s got the perfect combination of strength, toughness and an elite motor to be dominant. The other big stat is that Howell played 38 minutes. That could have never happened in past years just because of his tendency to get in foul trouble. His improvement (and ability to scale up his rebounding with minutes) over the past four years is remarkable.

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Olivier Hanlan Buries Georgia Tech and Scoring Record

Posted by mpatton on March 14th, 2013

Matt Patton is an RTC correspondent and an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report from Thursday afternoon’s ACC Tournament in Greensboro.

With about six and a half minutes left in the first half, ACC Rookie of the Year Olivier Hanlan had four points on six shots. Boston College was down 12, but its press looked lackadaisical and its offense stagnant. During the under-eight media timeout Steve Donahue told Hanlan to be more aggressive and that Mfon Udofia was breaking the press by getting off to a quick start. Hanlan cut off Robert Carter Jr.’s pass, ran right into the big Georgia Tech freshman, drawing the and-one. The game was never the same and the Eagles ended up winning by 20 points.

Olivier Hanlan Couldn't Miss and Boston College Routed Georgia Tech. (photo: Chuck Liddy / Raleigh News & Observer)

Olivier Hanlan Couldn’t Miss and Boston College Routed Georgia Tech. (photo: Chuck Liddy / Raleigh News & Observer)

Hanlan went on to hit the rest of his shots to score a ludicrous 41 points on 18 attempts. Over half his points came from beyond the arc, but his performance was so much more than good shooting. He hit runners, he hit lay-ups, he created, he spotted up, he drew fouls. Hanlan’s final shot summed up his performance perfectly. On a crisp pass from Ryan Anderson, he squared up and took his 10th three. The ball went all the way around the rim and off the backboard before falling through the net for the last of his 41 points. The performance broke Harrison Barnes 2011 scoring record for a freshman, but Steve Donahue pulled Hanlan with two minutes left, keeping Lenny Rosenbluth’s ACC Tournament record intact.

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Olivier Hanlan Validates ACC FrOY Award With 41 Points Against Georgia Tech

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on March 14th, 2013

Jimmy Kelley is an ACC correspondent for Rush the Court. Follow him on Twitter @JimmyKelley_

In case anyone was wondering what the biggest story of Day One at the ACC Tournament will be, it’s already been decided. Boston College knocked out Georgia Tech in the opening game of the tournament behind a 41-point effort from their much-debated ACC Freshman of the Year, Olivier Hanlan. The score book reads like a video game. Forty-one points, 14-of-18 shooting including 8-of-10 on three pointers. Five rebounds, three steals and one emphatic message sent to the rest of the ACC: “I’m here to stay.”

Olivier Hanlan, Boston College

Olivier Hanlan made eight three-point shots in Boston College’s first-round win over Georgia Tech. (Photo via Boston Globe)

Boston College has been an intriguing team all season because of its youth and potential but its inability to close out games against Miami, Duke and NC State at home left the team near the bottom of the ACC despite losing those games by a combined seven points. Those experiences were eventually going to help build something and that something came to life over the last four games in the form of four BC wins and correlating solid performances by Hanlan. The last three games saw Hanlan average 17 points per game and wrap up the ACC Freshman of the Year award while Rasheed Sulaimon lost his starting job in Durham. Thursday’s performance only solidified his case.

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What the ACC Tournament Means for Big Dance Possibilities

Posted by EMann on March 14th, 2013

While there are four teams in the ACC who are almost certain to make the NCAA Tournament, their seeds will likely be affected by how they perform. For the other eight teams, their result in the ACC Tournament will determine whether they qualify for the NCAA or any other postseason tournaments. The teams are listed below in order of their ACC Tournament seed.

#1 Miami (24-6, 15-3, RPI: 4 SOS: 4, KenPom: 14, Average Seed per Bracket Project: 2.51):

Larranaga Has the ACC Spotlight On Him Now (Credit: Nick Wass/Associated Press)

Larranaga Has the ACC Spotlight On Him Now (Credit: Nick Wass/Associated Press)

After Miami’s stumble to only win the conference regular season by one game overall (including dropping a game at home to Georgia Tech), Miami has slipped to a either the lowest #2 or the highest #3 seed in most bracketologists’ predictions. Miami probably can’t rise to a #1 seed by winning the ACC Tournament (even by beating Duke in the finals), but if it beats Duke en route to winning the title, Miami should be a safe bet for a #2 seed. Making the finals of the ACC Tournament could lock Miami into a #2 seed depending on the other teams’ results in their respective tournaments (i.e., Georgetown, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State), so Jim Larranaga’s team should be hoping for these teams to stumble to lock up a #2. It is highly unlikely, even with a Friday loss, for Miami to fall below the #3-line, though, given its regular season title and quality wins over Duke and Michigan State.

#2 Duke (27-4, 14-4, RPI: 1, SOS: 1, KenPom: 5, Average Seed per Bracket Project: 1.00):

Duke is in prime NCAA Tournament position. It typically dominates the ACC Tournament (having won 10 of the last 14 tournaments). With the Blue Devils undefeated (18-0) with Ryan Kelly in the lineup and boasting the top RPI in the country, Duke is almost assured as a lock for a #1 seed in the tournament. If Duke wins the ACC title, they should be the overall #1 seed and play in the East Region. Making the finals would likely assure that #1 seed in the East, and any other result will still likely give Duke a #1 seed elsewhere. If Duke loses on Friday it could possibly drop from the #1-seed line, but that is an unlikely result given Duke’s laudable overall resume to this point.

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The RTC Podblast: ACC Tournament Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2013

The ACC Tournament, 12-team edition, gets under way tomorrow, so the RTC Podcast guys invited ACC microsite writer Matt Patton (@rise_and_fire) along for the discussion. In this podblast, we question whether this is simply a coronation for Coach K en route to his 14th ACC crown (most ever), or if teams like Miami (FL), Virginia and/or North Carolina can cause the Blue Devils problems. Feel free to hop around to your areas of concern using the handy outline below, and make sure to check back frequently this week as we’ll be rolling out a new podblast for each of the six major conference tourneys.

  • 0:00-3:08 – Miami’s Surprise Championship Season
  • 3:08-11:05 – ACC POY and Award Discussion
  • 11:05-13:51 – Duke the Favorites With Ryan Kelly
  • 13:51-16:16 – Third Time the Charm for UNC Over Duke?
  • 16:16-19:21 – Virginia the Only ACC Team Still on the Bubble
  • 19:21-23:44 – ACC Seed Predictions
  • 23:44-26:29 – Dark Horse Team
  • 26:29-28:16 – ACC Tournament breakout star
  • 28:16-30:48 – ACC Swan Songs
  • 30:48-32:05 – Marquee Match-ups We’re Hoping to See
  • 32:05-33:40 – ACC NCAA Tournament Predictions
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Vegas Odds: Conference Tourneys – SEC, Big Ten, ACC, Atlantic 10

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2013

Yesterday we ran through the current Vegas odds for four of the major conference tournaments getting under way early in the week. Today we’ll take a brief look at the remainder — the ACC, Atlantic 10, Big Ten, and SEC. The SEC tips off tonight with the rest lacing them up on Thursday afternoon. As usual, there are some disparities between overall public perception and the mathematics that Vegas assigns to these teams — we’ll note some of those differences below (all oddreported from 5dimes.com on Tuesday night).

sec tourney 13 odds

It’s no surprise that the Gators are a heavy favorite in Nashville this week, but #6 seed Missouri coming in with the next highest odds might be. The Tigers would have to win four games in four days, which is always difficult but not impossible. Vegas has little faith in #3 seed Ole Miss and #4 seed Alabama, as exhibited by their relatively low odds. The bottom line is that this tournament is Florida’s to lose, but after that it’s pretty wide open.

acc tourney 13 odds

#1 seed Miami (FL) may have won the regular season by a game in the ACC standings, but that doesn’t mean Vegas has to oblige with the notion that the Hurricanes are better than #2 seed Duke. The Blue Devils are a significant favorite over the rest of the field in Greensboro, and the odds realistically only give the top half of this league any kind of a chance. One team to watch is #5 seed NC State, who will have to win four games in four days — Vegas is still relatively high on the Wolfpack despite an incredibly inconsistent season.

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